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Imaging a single atom in a time-of-flight experiment

Abstract : We perform fluorescence imaging of a single 87Rb atom after its release from an optical dipole trap. The time-of-flight expansion of the atomic spatial density distribution is observed by accumulating many single atom images. The position of the atom is revealed with a spatial resolution close to 1μm by a single-photon event, induced by a short resonant probe. The expansion yields a measure of the temperature of a single atom, which is in very good agreement with the value obtained by an independent measurement based on a release-and-recapture method. The analysis presented in this paper provides a way of calibrating an imaging system useful for experimental studies involving a few atoms confined in a dipole trap.
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Andreas Fuhrmanek, Andrew Matheson Lance, Charles Tuchendler, Philippe Grangier, Yvan R. P. Sortais, et al.. Imaging a single atom in a time-of-flight experiment. New Journal of Physics, Institute of Physics: Open Access Journals, 2010, 12, pp.53028. ⟨10.1088/1367-2630/12/5/053028⟩. ⟨hal-01102495⟩

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